On Sunday, July 5, 1880, Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church of Richmond County, Georgia was organized by two members, Deacon Mose Sam and Deacon Harry Perry. Mr. John Dickey, a white humanitarian, donated a generous gift of land in his deed for the organization of the church.
The church’s name was selected because of the abundant pine trees on the property. At the church’s Founder’s Day, Rev. Steve Woods of Sharon Baptist Church officiated the organizational services, and Rev. B. Drisby delivered the sermon, using as his text a passage of Scripture found in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock, I will build my church”. During this meeting, the Rev. John Curtis, a fearless, kind, understanding, and sympathetic leader, was chosen as the first pastor of Piney Grove. Under his pastorate, the church prospered, and many souls were added.
After Rev. Curtis’s pastorate, many ministers served as pastors of Piney Grove and expanded the church’s ministry in numerous ways. Rev. A. W. Wilson, the second pastor, served for a number of years. Rev. C. Nobles, the third pastor, was instrumental in making Piney Grove one of the leading churches in the Augusta area. Rev. Alex Cooper, the fourth pastor, was known for his erudition, but he later resigned to pastor another church. Rev. Mitchell Crawford, the fifth pastor, was known for his fiery sermons and was held in high esteem in Piney Grove and the wider community. Like Pastor Crawford, Rev. J.H. Willborn, the sixth pastor, was popular and increased the church’s viability within the community.
As the seventh pastor, Rev. Charles H. Gardner became well known within Piney Grove and the Greater Augusta community and involved the church in a variety of Christian ministries. As a result, his pastorate flourished rapidly, and his leadership followed the great leadership of Old Testament servants, Elisha and Moses. On the third Sunday in October 1927, Rev. Gardner passed away. After Pastor Gardner’s death, Rev. William Bennett, the eighth pastor, served until he resigned. Following Pastor Bennett’s resignation, Rev. R.L. McCord, the ninth pastor, who was installed by the late Rev. G.W. Harrison, oversaw the construction of a new church and the beginning of the church’s interior design. Pastor McCord passed away on March 23, 1952 after twenty-five years of service.
After Pastor McCord’s death, Rev. J.C. Gardner, the tenth and longest serving pastor, became pastor of Piney Grove on Sunday, May 4, 1952 after serving as interim pastor. During his pastorate, his achievements in ministry were stellar. Two deacons were ordained, Solomon Parks and Walter Booker, Jr. in 1958. In 1964, Bro. Fred Thompkins was appointed as Chairman of the Deacon Board, and Bro. Emmanuel Burgess was appointed as Co-chairperson. During that time, Terrell Williams, Jessey Burgess, Elijah Sanders, Arthur Reid, and Cleveland Vinson, Jr. were candidates for the office of deacon.
Under Pastor Gardner’s leadership, the pastor’s study was added in 1967. In 1969, Deacon Emmanuel Burgess presented the church with a Bible that was published in 1889. This Bible currently rests on the communion table each Sunday. In 1970, Sis Anderson, Sis K. Bentley, Sis O. Burgess, Sis J. Thompkins, Sis Strong, Sis M. Williams, Sis B. Kennedy and Sis L. Fouch were appointed as Deaconesses and Bro Rufus Burgess and Elijah Sanders became candidates for the office of deacon. On September 4, 1983, Rev. Gardner announced his resignation due to declining health, but the officers and members asked him to remain until the end of the year. After several months of illness, Rev. Gardner passed away on December 16, 1984. Rev. Gardner’s pastorate greatly influenced the ministry of Piney Grove for thirty-one years.
After one year of searching for a pastor, Rev. Willie J. Jackson, the eleventh pastor, was elected on December 1, 1984. Prior to his election, Rev. Jackson served as third Sunday pastor at Piney Grove for a year and a half. During this time, he exhibited a sincere interest in saving souls and improving the activities of God’s tabernacle. His interest deepened while serving as pastor. Rev. Jackson assumed pastoral duties on January 6, 1985, and he was officially installed as pastor on February 17, 1985. Under his leadership many souls were brought to Christ. A new van was purchased and the fellowship hall was added to the church.
On December 2, 2006, Rev. James L. Reid, the twelfth and current pastor, was unanimously elected as pastor after serving as interim pastor for two months. He was installed as pastor of Piney Grove on February 11, 2007. Under his pastorate, Pastor Reid has developed many ministries that have ensured the church’s growth and influence. Those ministries are as follows: Audio Ministry, Food and Clothing Ministries, and the reinstatement of the Pastor’s Aid Ministry. He has instituted the Pastor’s Pupil’s Program and the Estell Burgess Educational Scholarship Fund. A Junior Deacon Training Ministry was begun as well as a Minister in Training Program and the Brotherhood Ministry. Further, Pastor Reid also facilitated the purchase of two new buses, the paving of the church’s sidewalk and the renovation of the pastor’s study. The sanctuary was remodeled and reflects Piney Grove’s “royal heritage”. His unusual style of preaching has led many souls to Christ. He is a bold spiritual leader with a gift of preaching and teaching.
As Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church celebrates another milestone in the ministry, it still strives to honor the profound determination and fulfill the visions of the pioneers and founders of years past. It is Piney Grove’s vision to continue to evolve as a Christ -centered church whose motto is, “Reviving the saints … Restoring the fallen … Reaching the lost …” The poem below embodied the strong vision of Piney Grove:
This church was built on faith and prayers,of pioneers faced with tasks to bear. With Christian goals they accomplished much; Their aim you see was to establish a church. We, too, have faith; we must press on, Our goals are built on Jesus Christ, So as our history continues to grow, God’s spirit will forever show.
We have not reached the point of perfection, nor have we attained all that is attainable. We realize that there is always room for improvement. God’s guidance and blessings have brought us through these 136 years and we always hold fast to the fact that “We’ve Come This Far By Faith”!
All praises to God … He is Worthy to be Praised!
History of Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church